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Russia's Move to Send Troops to Ukraine Spurs Talk of War

Published: March 3, 2014 (Issue # 1799)



  • An activist stands protected and on guard in Kiev.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Russian lawmakers have given President Vladimir Putin the go-ahead to use Russian troops in Ukraine, a move that has thrown the international community into a tizzy and prompted Ukraine to mobilize its own troops.

The Federation Council's approval of the measure on Saturday has further complicated the Ukraine crisis, which began with mass protests in Kiev in November after then-President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia. Since then, Ukraine has been at the center of a tug-of-war between Russia and the EU — but only now has the conflict given way to warnings of World War Three.

Related: Local Activists Protest in Kiev

After Yanukovych's ouster and the establishment of a new de facto government, Russia has repeatedly expressed concerns for the safety of Russian-speakers in Crimea, saying they face discrimination and possible violence by the hands of nationalists.

It is precisely this concern that Putin cited when seeking lawmakers' approval for military involvement in Ukraine. He asked the upper chamber of parliament to allow him to use Russia's Black Sea Fleet based in southern Ukraine "in connection with extraordinary circumstances that have developed in Ukraine," which pose "a threat to the lives of Russian nationals" and to the Russian troops in Ukraine themselves, the Kremlin website reported.

Putin's concern seemed to be vindicated on Sunday, when Russia's Border Guard Service said it had recorded 675,000 civilians fleeing from Ukraine into Russia in the past two months, 143,000 of those in the past fortnight, Interfax reported.

Putin's request for military involvement came a day after U.S. President Barack Obama issued a stark warning to Russia, saying "the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine."

Later Saturday, the Federation Council unanimously approved Putin's request, which is mandated by the Russian Constitution, Interfax reported.

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